June 8, 2017

Climbing the AAA Walls

Big Bay, MI

“Welcome to the AAA Walls”

The sign that greeted us was dwarfed by the massive rock wall looming before us. Based on topographical maps, we knew that something pretty large sat near AAA Road (Marquette County, Upper Peninsula) but we never suspected it was a solid wall of rock.

“With your help, climbing is permitted on this private land as a partnership with Longyear Realty Corporation, Upper Peninsula Climbers Coalition, and the Access Fund. Thanks to the of Longyear, UPCC has entered into a recreational license to allow public access for the primary purpose of rock climbing. Enjoy your day of climbing…”

A natural climbing wall. The AAA Walls were first climbed in the late 1970’s and since then have been used for recreational climbing by 4-H groups, Northern Michigan University, youth and school groups, and countless others, thanks to Longyear and the Upper Peninsula Climbers Coalition.
Steve and I were unaware that such a place existed, and while we are not rock climbers (yet), we never turn down an opportunity to explore some place new. We hoped that there would be a sloping side to this wall and we were right. We found a steep but passable slope that leads up to the top of the AAA Walls and took advantage of it to check out some of the views.
Thick trees and brush blocked many of the views but there were some nice sights overlooking AAA Road. It was hard to believe that we were so far above the ground. Thick brush, signs of wildlife, and some large pine trees made it feel like we were in a whole different world.
There was no one climbing the Walls when we were there the first time, but a few days later we drove through and a youth camp, armed with climbing gear and bug nets, was taking on the challenge of the AAA Walls.

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